Katie Waissel

X Factor contestants who were kicked off the hit TV show before last weekend's final are arriving in Ireland in a desperate bid to launch their music careers but face disappointment after only managing to secure gigs in low-key venues.

Controversial finalist Katie Waissel will make the transition from performing on stage in front of over 16 million viewers to playing the Manor nightclub in Virginia, Co Cavan, next month. Also set to play in the same venue is Aiden Grimshaw, who was noted for his intense performances throughout the competition.

Tickets cost €20 to see both acts perform for two consecutive nights in mid-January.

Meanwhile, Louis Walsh's quirky Brazilian protégé Wagner will play the Wright Venue in Swords, Co Dublin, this Thursday. Girl band Belle Amie, who left the contest at an early stage, recently performed at the George in Dublin, with tickets costing €5 each.

The finalists, who will earn only 0.01 cent per iTunes download of any of their performances online, are meanwhile about to embark on a gruelling 30-date live tour. Tickets for the Dublin dates of the tour in the 14,000-capacity 02 venue are selling for about €55, making the Irish leg of the tour one of the most lucrative for the show's executives.

Contestants such as Dubliner Mary Byrne were given only €30 a week while they stayed in the X Factor house, leaving them virtually penniless, despite that they were pulling in almost €1m worth of phone votes for every week of the show. Byrne said previously that, had Tesco bosses not continued to pay her for her time on the show, she would have been in a dire financial predicament.

Reports suggesting that contestants earned only €300 an episode were rubbished by show mogul Simon Cowell, who said that contestants could have expected to make up to €1,500 each per show with personal appearances.

While ITV refused to reveal details of payments to finalists, the sums earned pale in comparison to Cowell's take-home pay, which was as much as €250,000 an episode.

PR guru Max Clifford said former contestants should use the "shop window" they had been given "before it runs out".

"They should be trying to build up a live-audience following, and then they need to get some good management behind them," he told the Sunday Tribune.